In August 1072, King William invaded Scotland. He doesn't appear to have met with any significant resistance, and he received the submission of, the Scots’ king, Malcolm Canmore at Abernethy (on the south bank of the Tay).
“William returning thence deprived Gospatric of the dignity of his earldom [northern Northumbria], charging him with having afforded counsel and aid to those who had murdered the earl [Robert Cumin] and his men at Durham [in January 1069*], although he had not been present in person; and that he had been on the side of the enemy when the Normans were slain at York.”Symeon of Durham ‘Historia Regum’
“Gospatric being cast down from his dignity, Waltheof was raised to the earldom, which was his right by his father’s and mother’s descent* ... At that time (namely, when the king had returned from Scotland) he built a castle in Durham, where the bishop might keep himself and his people safe from the attacks of assailants....
“The king appointed Walcher bishop of the church of Durham, from a clerk of the church of Liège, (for he had come over on the invitation of the king himself), illustrious in birth, upright in character, endowed with the grace of sacred and secular learning. Eilaf, the housecarl, held in especial honour by the king, with many other leading men conducted him to York, where, by the king's direction, Earl Gospatric met and received the prelate, to accompany him as far as Durham; and he came to the church of his see at Mid-Lent [27th March 1071].”Symeon of Durham ‘Historia Regum’ (s.a. 1071)
“Some time after this [in 1072], the king of whom we have been speaking [i.e. William] came into Durham, along with his army, upon their return from Scotland, and made strict inquiry whether the body of the blessed Cuthbert rested there; and although all exclaimed aloud, and with oaths, that such was the case, yet he would not believe the statement. He determined therefore to bring the matter to an ocular demonstration, for he had in his retinue certain bishops and abbots who, at his command, would settle the question. He had already come to the resolution, that if the body were not discovered there, he would order all the chief of the nobility and of the elder people to be beheaded. So while all were in great consternation, and were imploring God’s mercy through the merits of St Cuthbert, the aforesaid bishop [Walcher] having celebrated mass upon the festival of All Saints [1st November], the king, just as he was on the eve of carrying into execution the intention which he had formed in his mind, was suddenly seized with an excessive heat, the intensity of which so oppressed him that he could scarcely endure it. He hastened therefore to leave the church, and paying no attention to a magnificent entertainment which had been provided for him, he hurriedly mounted his horse, and did not bridle until he had reached the river Tees. Hence it is evident that St Cuthbert, one of God’s great confessors, rests there, and that the king was not permitted by God to injure the people.”This was not the only miraculous occurrence reported during King William’s journey from Scotland. An anonymous, 12th century, ‘Vita Oswini’ (Life of St Oswin) says (§8) that the army was detained at Monkchester (soon to be Newcastle) by the swollen river Tyne. A foraging party took provisions from the monastery at Tynemouth (where St Oswin’s remains were housed). The offended saint got revenge by causing the horses which had been fed with the stolen fodder to fall ill. One of the Norman knights, called Robert, saved the life of his favourite warhorse by offering his best cloak at St Oswin’s tomb.Symeon of Durham ‘LDE’ (III, 19)
.... Bishop Walcher and earl Waltheof were very friendly and accommodating to each other; so that he, sitting together with the bishop in the synod of priests, humbly and obediently carried out whatever the bishop decreed for the reformation of Christianity in his earldom.”Symeon of Durham ‘Historia Regum’
The charges made against Gospatric might be thought to apply just as well to Waltheof. However, Waltheof was clearly a favourite of King William. Orderic Vitalis (‘HE’ IV: ii, 221) calls him “one of the greatest of the English”, and notes that the king “married him to his own niece Judith to strengthen the bonds of friendship between them”.
Meanwhile, the happy political situation (from the Norman point of view) on the other side of the Channel – giving William the domestic security which enabled him to successfully conquer England – had deteriorated. William’s father-in-law, Count Baldwin V of Flanders, died in 1067. (Since 1060, Baldwin had acted as regent for his young nephew, King Philip I of France.*) Baldwin V’s successor, his son, Baldwin VI, died in 1070, and was succeeded by his fifteen-year-old son, Arnulf III. Arnulf’s mother, Richildis of Hainaut, served as regent. Baldwin VI’s brother, Robert the Frisian, however, invaded and took possession of Flanders. Richildis and Arnulf sought assistance from King Philip I. Now, Orderic Vitalis (‘HE’ IV: ii, 234) reports that, at this time, King William sent his right-hand man, William fitz Osbern, earl of Hereford, to Normandy, to act, alongside Queen Matilda, as his regent. King Philip:
“... mustered an army of Frenchmen to aid Arnulf, and summoned Earl William as regent of Normandy to accompany him.”Orderic Vitalis (‘HE’ IV: ii, 235)
“But there came Robert, and slew Arnulf his kinsman and the earl William, and put the king to flight and slew many thousands of his men.”
This battle took place at Cassel, Flanders, in February 1071.* The upshot was that King Philip made peace with Robert – Robert became count of Flanders (Robert I), and Philip married his step-daughter, Bertha. “But”, notes Orderic (‘HE’ IV: ii, 237), “mutual and lasting hostility arose between the Normans and Flemings”.
The death of Geoffrey Martel (Geoffrey II), count of Anjou, in 1060 was followed by a protracted dispute between his nephews (he had died childless), Geoffrey the Bearded (Geoffrey III) and, his younger brother, Fulk Rechin. William the Bastard (William II), duke of Normandy (and future king of England), took advantage of Anjou’s preoccupation, and, c.1063, conquered Maine (which acted as a buffer-zone between Normandy and Anjou). In 1068, Fulk (Fulk IV) finally threw his brother into prison. The following year there was a nationalist rebellion in Maine – Norman rule there collapsed. The resulting government, headed by one Geoffrey de Mayenne, however, was unstable. In 1072, the citizens of Le Mans invited Count Fulk’s intervention on their behalf. Fulk obliged, and assisted them to drive out Geoffrey de Mayenne. And so:
“In this year  King William led an English and French army over sea, and won the land of Maine. And the Englishmen greatly wasted it; they ruined vineyards and burned towns and greatly wasted the land, and reduced it all into the hand of King William; and they afterwards went home to England.”‘Anglo-Saxon Chronicle’ Manuscripts D and E*
The following year, as reported in some detail by ‘Chronicle’ Manuscript D:
“In this year  King William went over sea to Normandy; and Edgar Cild [i.e. Edgar Ætheling] came from the Flemings’ land to Scotland on St Grimbald’s mass-day [8th July] ....
.... and King Malcolm and his sister [i.e. Edgar’s sister, Malcolm’s wife] Margaret received him with great worship. At the same time Philip king of France wrote to him, and bade him come to him, and he would give him the castle of Montreuil, that he might then daily do harm to his enemies [i.e. the Normans]. Well, King Malcolm and his sister Margaret gave him and all his men great gifts and many treasures, in skins decked with purple, and in pelisses of marten-skin and miniver-skin and ermine-skin; and in costly robes, and in golden and silver vessels; and led him and all his shipmen with great worship from his dominion. But on the voyage evil befell them, when they were out at sea; so that there came on them very rough weather, and the raging sea and the strong wind cast them on the land so that all their ships burst asunder, and they themselves with difficulty came to land [evidently on the English coast], and almost all their treasures were lost. And some of his men also were seized by the Frenchmen [i.e. Normans]; but he himself and his best men went back again to Scotland – some ruefully going on foot, and some miserably riding. Then King Malcolm advised him that he should send to King William over sea, and pray his peace; and he did so, and the king granted it to him, and sent after him. And King Malcolm and his sister again gave him and all his men innumerable treasures, and very worthily again sent him from their dominion. And the sheriff of York came to meet him at Durham, and went all the way with him, and enabled him to find food and fodder at every castle which they came to, until they came over sea to the king. And King William then received him with great worship; and he was there in his court, and took such rights as he allowed him.”
Whilst King William was absent in Normandy, however, a plot was hatched against him in England. The ‘Anglo-Saxon Chronicle’ says:
“In this year  King William gave to Earl Ralph the daughter of William fitz Osbern [in marriage].”‘Anglo-Saxon Chronicle’ Manuscripts D and E
Florence of Worcester, though, maintains that:
“Roger, earl of Hereford, son of William, earl of the same province, gave his sister in marriage to Ralph, earl of the East Angles, against the command of King William ...”
Anyway, at the wedding celebrations*:
“There were Earl Roger and Earl Waltheof, and bishops and abbots; and they there resolved that they would drive their royal lord from his kingdom ... Earl Ralph and Earl Roger were ringleaders in this evil design; and they enticed the Bretons to them, and sent also to Denmark for a ship-army.”‘Anglo-Saxon Chronicle’ Manuscript D phraseology
“... they compelled earl Waltheof, who had been entrapped by their wiles, to join them in the plot.”*Florence of Worcester
Roger returned to Herefordshire, and Ralph, with his new wife (whose name, incidentally, was Emma), went to Norwich. Waltheof, however:
“As soon as he was able ... went to Lanfranc, archbishop of Canterbury, and accepting penance for his compulsory oath, by his advice proceeded to King William, who was then in Normandy, and having related the affair from beginning to end, voluntarily threw himself upon the royal clemency.* But the chiefs of the conspiracy ... began by every exertion, with the aid of their supporters, to excite the rebellion.”Florence of Worcester
“Our lord the king of the English greets you and all of us as his faithful subjects in whom he places great trust, commanding us to do all in our power to prevent his castles from being handed over to his enemies: may God avert such a disaster. I urge you then, as I must urge the dearest of my sons – whom God knows I love wholeheartedly and long to serve, whose father too I loved like my own soul – to be so scrupulous in this matter and in all your duty as a vassal of our lord the king that you may have praise of God and the king and all good men. Never forget your father’s distinguished career: the faithful service he gave his lord, his zeal in winning great possessions and how honourably he held what he had won.”*Lanfranc urges Roger to arrange a meeting with him, to “discuss both your affairs and the interests of the king”. In his next letter, Lanfranc greets Roger, like he had in the earlier letter, as his “dearest son and friend”, and continues:
“I grieve more than I can say at the unwelcome news I hear of you. It would not be right that a son of Earl William – a man whose sagacity and loyalty to his lord and all his friends is renowned in many lands – should be called faithless and be exposed to the slur of perjury or any kind of deceit. On the contrary, the son of such a great man should follow his father’s example, and be for others a pattern of integrity and loyalty in all respects. I therefore beg you, as a son whom I cherish and the dearest of friends, for the sake of God and your own good name, if you are guilty of such conduct to return to your senses; and if you are not, to demonstrate this by the clearest possible evidence.”Once again, Lanfranc urges Roger to meet with him – guaranteeing his safe passage. Once again, Roger declined the invitation:
“Lanfranc, by the grace of God archbishop, to his one-time dearest son and friend earl Roger: may he have sound judgement and some concern for his soul’s welfare.
I grieve for you inexpressibly, for God knows I loved you and desired with all my heart to love and serve you. But because the Devil’s prompting and the advice of evil men have led you into an enterprise which under no circumstances should you have attempted, necessity has forced me to change my attitude and turn my affection not so much into hate as bitterness and the severity of justice. I have sent messengers, I have sent letters not once but a second time inviting you to come to me: to receive counsel for your soul from me your father in God and true friend, and on better advice to abandon the foolish undertaking which you had planned. You would not do so. Therefore I have cursed and excommunicated you and all your adherents by my authority as archbishop; I have cut you off from the holy precincts of the Church and the assembly of the faithful, and by my pastoral authority I have commanded this to take effect throughout the whole land of England.”
“William de Warenne and Richard de Bienfaite, son of Count Gilbert [of Brionne, murdered in 1040], whom the king had appointed among his chief ministers for all business in England, summoned the rebels to the king’s court. They however, scorned the summons, preferring to continue in their evil ways, and joined battle with the king’s men.”Orderic Vitalis (‘HE’ IV: ii, 262)
“... Wulfstan, bishop of Worcester, with a great military force, Æthelwig, abbot of Evesham, with his followers, and having procured the assistance of Urse, sheriff of Worcester, and Walter de Lacy, with their forces, and a large number of the people, prepared to prevent the earl of Hereford from crossing the Severn and joining Earl Ralph and his army at the appointed place. Odo, bishop of Bayeux, the king’s brother, and Geoffrey, bishop of Coutances, with a great force, both of English and Normans, ready for action, met Earl Ralph encamped near Cambridge. But he, perceiving that his plan was frustrated, and moreover fearing the superior numbers of his opponents, escaped secretly to Norwich, and leaving his castle to the care of his wife and his knights, embarked from England for Brittany; his adversaries pursuing him, and killing or maiming in various ways those of his followers whom they were able to capture. Then the leaders laid siege to his castle ...”Florence of Worcester
Orderic doesn't mention that Bishop Wulfstan et al. held Earl Roger in check, and he says it was William de Warenne and Richard de Bienfaite who:
“... mustered the English army and engaged in a hard-fought battle with the rebels in a plain called Fagaduna.* Holding their ground they won the field by God’s help, and left their mark on all prisoners of whatever rank by cutting off their right foot. They pursued Ralph the Breton to his castle, but could not capture him....
.... Then concentrating their forces they [William de Warenne and Richard de Bienfaite] besieged and attacked Norwich, encouraging their friends by their bravery and military skill, and harrying their besieged foes by continual assault with every kind of engine of war.”Orderic Vitalis (‘HE’ IV: ii, 262–3)
After a siege of three months (according to Orderic), the defenders of Norwich capitulated.
“To his most glorious lord William, king of the English, Lanfranc his loyal subject sends loyal service and prayers.
Glory be to God on high, by whose mercy your kingdom has been purged of its Breton dung. Norwich Castle has been surrendered and those Bretons in it who held lands in England have been granted their lives and spared mutilation; they have sworn for their part to leave your kingdom within forty days and never to enter it again without your permission. The landless mercenaries who served Ralph the traitor and his associates begged for and were granted the same terms within the limit of one month. Bishop Geoffrey, William de Warenne and Robert Malet have remained in the castle itself with three hundred heavily-armed soldiers, supported by a large force of slingers and siege engineers. By God’s mercy all the clamour of warfare has fallen silent in the land of England.
The Lord almighty bless you.”Letter from Lanfranc to King William*
“These things being done, the king returned in the autumn from Normandy, and put Earl Roger in confinement, and delivered Earl Waltheof to custody, though he had implored his mercy.”Florence of Worcester
“Earl Roger ... was judged by the laws of the Normans, and condemned to perpetual imprisonment after forfeiting all his earthly goods.”Orderic Vitalis (‘HE’ IV: ii, 264)
“Earl Waltheof was summoned before the king and accused, on the deposition of his wife Judith, of being a party to the conspiracy and proving unfaithful to his lord. He, however, fearlessly and openly admitted that he had learned from the traitors of their infamous intention, but had refused to give them any support in such a shameful affair. Judgement was demanded on the grounds of this confession: but as the judges could not agree among themselves a decision was postponed several times and delayed a year [actually, several months, but not a year]. During this time the brave earl was kept in the king’s prison at Winchester ...”Orderic Vitalis (‘HE’ IV: ii, 265)
“And soon after this came two hundred ships from Denmark; wherein the chiefs were Cnut, son of King Swein,* and Earl Hakon; and they durst not maintain a battle against King William, but ...”‘Anglo-Saxon Chronicle’ Manuscript D phraseology
At this point in the story Manuscript E simply says the Danes “proceeded over sea to Flanders”, but Manuscript D reports that they:
“... went to York, and broke into St Peter’s minster, and therein took much property, and so went away; but all perished who were in that plan; that was the son of Earl Hakon, and many others with him.”
"The king was that Midwinter at Westminster; there were all the Bretons condemned who were at the marriage-feast at Norwich:Some were blinded, and some banished from the land,
and some punished ignominiously.*
So were the king’s traitors crushed."‘Anglo-Saxon Chronicle’ Manuscript D phraseology
“And in this year  Earl Waltheof was beheaded at Winchester, on St Petronella’s mass-day [31st May]; and his body was conveyed to Crowland [8 miles northeast of Peterborough], and he is there buried.”‘Anglo-Saxon Chronicle’ Manuscript D*
It is evident that Waltheof had a skald, Thorkell Skallason, in his entourage. Two stanzas of a poem that Thorkell composed about his employer (‘Valþjófsflokkr’) appear in ‘Heimskringla’. The first tells how Waltheof caused a hundred of King William’s ‘Frenchmen’ to burn to death.* The second laments his death:
“It is certain that William, the reddener of weapons, he who from the south clove the foamy sea, has kept bad faith with valiant Waltheof. Truly it will be long before slaying of men ceases in England – but my lord was gallant! There will not die a more famous chief than he.”'Valþjófsflokkr' (‘Heimskringla’, ‘Saga of Harald Sigurdsson’ Chapter 97)
“This man [Waltheof], while yet in the enjoyment of life, being placed in close confinement, lamented without ceasing and with extreme bitterness the unrighteous actions of his past life. He earnestly sought to appease his God by vigils, prayers, fastings, and almsgiving. Men desired to blot the remembrance of him on earth; but we firmly believe that he is now rejoicing with the saints in heaven, on the testimony of Archbishop Lanfranc of pious memory, from whom he received the sacrament of penance after his confession, who declared that not only was he guiltless of the crime laid to his charge, the conspiracy mentioned above, but that, like a true Christian, he had lamented with tears of penitence the other sins which he had committed; and he added that he himself should esteem himself happy could he enjoy, after his own departure, the blessed repose of the earl.”
“... some assert that he joined the league of treachery more through necessity than inclination. This is the excuse the English make for him, and those, of the greater credit, for the Normans affirm the contrary, to whose decision the Divinity itself appears to assent, showing many and very great miracles at his tomb; for they declare that during his captivity, he wiped away his transgressions by daily sorrow.”
His body they [the monks of Crowland] cherished well.
Afterwards it was often seen in the place
That God did by it many works.Geffrei Gaimar (5734–5736)
Orderic Vitalis spent five weeks at Crowland, where the cult of Waltheof was fostered. Consequently, his narrative (‘HE’ IV: ii, 266–7) becomes more hagiography than history. Waltheof (“a handsome man of splendid physique”) had been taken to his place of execution – St Giles’ Hill, outside Winchester – very early in the morning, whilst people were still asleep. Once there, Waltheof gave away his rich garments to the few clergy and poor who were present, and prostrated himself in prayer. After some considerable time, his executioners, anxious to get the job over before the citizens awoke and intervened to prevent the sentence being carried out, told him to get up. He asked to be allowed to say the Lord’s prayer:
“As they agreed he rose, and kneeling with his eyes raised to heaven and his hands stretched out he began to say aloud, “Our Father, which art in Heaven”. But when he reached the last sentence and said, “And lead us not into temptation,” such tears and lamentations broke from him that he could not finish his prayer. The executioner refused to wait any longer, but straightway drawing his sword struck off the earl’s head with a mighty blow. Then the severed head was heard by all present to say in a clear voice, “But deliver us from evil. Amen.”*
Waltheof’s body was flung into a ditch and covered with turf. A fortnight later, “at the request of Judith and with the king’s permission”, the abbot of Crowland dug up the body (“which still remained incorrupt with the blood as fresh as if he had just died”), transported it to Crowland and buried it in the chapter-house.
At this point, Orderic includes his abridgement of Felix’s ‘Life’ of St Guthlac (produced at the request of the prior of Crowland), followed by a history of Crowland Abbey (based on information told to him by the subprior and other senior monks). Orderic says (‘HE’ IV: ii, 286) that when Waltheof’s body had been interred for almost sixteen years, the then abbot, Ingulf, had it moved into the church. When the coffin lid was opened, the corpse was “found as incorrupt as on the day of its burial, and moreover the head was joined to the body”. Orderic’s visit to Crowland took place during the tenure of Ingulf’s successor, Abbot Geoffrey, i.e. between 1109 and 1124. It is said (‘HE’ IV: ii, 288) to have been in “the third year” of Abbot Geoffrey’s term of office, that miracles first began to occur at Waltheof’s tomb: “the news of them gladdened the hearts of the English and the populace came flocking in great numbers to the tomb of their compatriot”.* Orderic himself (“the Englishman Vitalis”) was asked to compose an epitaph for Waltheof:
Beneath this stone a man of highest virtue –
The valiant son of Siward, earl and Dane –
Waltheof, most glorious earl, lies nobly buried.
Honoured in war, revered by all, he flourished;
Yet knowing worldly wealth and fame are shadows
He gave his love to Christ, and sought to please him,
Cherished his Church, and humbly loved his clergy,
Cherishing most the faithful monks of Crowland.
Sentenced to die by cruel Norman judgement,
At the last dawn of May he fell, beheaded.
The marshy soil of Crowland which, while living,
He had so deeply loved received his body.
God grant his soul eternal rest in Heaven.(‘HE’ IV: ii, 289–90)
Waltheof’s widow inherited many of the land-holdings associated with his Midlands earldom – in the Domesday Book she appears as Countess Judith. Waltheof’s Northern earldom was handed to Walcher, bishop of Durham.
Still in 1076:
“And King William went over sea, and led a force to Brittany, and besieged the castle of Dol ....
.... but the Bretons held it, until the king [Philip I] came from France; and King William went from there, and there lost both men and horses, and innumerable treasures.”‘Anglo-Saxon Chronicle’ Manuscript D phraseology
“In this year  the king of the French and William king of England were reconciled; though it lasted but a little while.”‘Anglo-Saxon Chronicle’ Manuscript E*